Back Cover Blurb;
“Papa handed Mama a brace of pistols. Her tears, Mr Darcy, her tears: yet, all she did was nod when Papa looked at us and said, ‘You know what to do if they enter the icehouse.’”
Refugees flood the roads. A feared spectre has escaped London’s grimy docklands and now threatens the wealthy districts. Amongst that ragged steam is a single carriage jostling its way toward Meryton. Inside are the Darcy siblings along with Charles and Caroline Bingley. They desperately seek the safety of Netherfield Park.
For all their riches, they could not evade the epidemic’s dark hand. Bingley’s leasehold had been reduced to rubble as roving bands raped, pillaged, and burned. The only sanctuary was Longbourn where once installed, the Darcys and Bingleys were barred from leaving by a fortnight’s quarantine.
Events converge with disease in The Longbourn Quarantine. Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy abandon old prejudices to face grief and mourning. Pride is set aside as Death hovers nearby. The couple forges ahead knowing that love unexplored is love lost: that words must be said lest they remain unspoken in the time of smallpox.
Review of “A Longbourn Quarantine”
From the desk of A Jane Austen Girl comes a review of Pride and Prejudice variation author Don Jacobson, and his new book, a book which shines quite a light through the current world situation, like a beacon of hope for the future.
Like our world today, the Longbourn family is similarly in quarantine due to smallpox, instead of a virus similar to influenza and pneumonia. In a surprise stroke, Don places the Netherfield party as enforced guests on the household of the Bennet’s.
During this book, in a span of two weeks, the Bennet family and the Netherfield party are forced to span all their time together, and as tragedy strikes, the two parties are forced to change their views on each other and themselves. A commanding Mrs Bennet, quiet Kitty and Lydia, an understanding and somewhat humorous Darcy is found during the reading, and a Bingley who is forced to grow up, and learn some harsh truths, a social understanding Georgiana and Mary, and lastly an Elizabeth who slowly becomes aware of her view of people around her, is faulty.
Another strike of surprise, came from Don Jacobson’s pen namely the one opening the eyes of Elizabeth to Darcy fell to the most unlikely source imaginative… Guess whom! I was thoroughly surprised. I will give a clue, Don has redeemed this character in another of his books.
But finally, the book ended on quite a lovely epilogue who has the characters happy and with bright futures ahead, with their matches in happy marriages. Even if the future might hold more unforeseen circumstances, quarantines and illnesses, but always with the promise of hope for the future.
Don has been so kind as to give us a peek into the novella/book, just so we want to get our hands on it even more than we already do, hehe. Enjoy!
Thursday’s dawn crept on silent feet toward Longbourn. First, the very tips of the Chiltern Uplift to the west caught the earliest rays, pink at first, but soon richening to a ruddier rose. Upon Gaia’s command, the ridgeline shifted from orange to workaday green as tree-covered slopes asserted themselves. Creeping eastward, the blush swirled around the deciduous carpet that flowed from the heights into the Mimram’s valley. The morning mists trapped by the great oaks lining the lane were the last to transform from featureless gray to a cottony whiteness that dissipated into invisibility.
On the bare edge of her hearing, shielded as it was by her musings, Lizzy registered Jane’s gentle snoring. For someone considered the most beautiful woman in the neighborhood, Jane Bennet managed more than one unladylike wheeze or snuffle as she slept the sleep of the innocent. However, neither the pleasant nor the annoying could distract Elizabeth’s inner contemplation from an enigma that stood over six feet tall and had rich blue eyes beneath a high forehead framed by dark brown, near-black waves.
Her existence had been upended by Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley in Derbyshire. Elizabeth’s estimation of the man had been tested every time she encountered evidence of the way he had inserted himself into life at Longbourn.
Mr Darcy once again had determined to prove incorrect her notions of his personality. She long had comforted herself with the sense that her first impressions established within an hour of making the man’s acquaintance were not mistaken. His history had not offered any information to the contrary. However, since the Bingley and Darcy siblings had been forced to shelter at Longbourn, the Derbyshire gentleman conspired to destroy every prejudice she had lovingly crafted and cherished for half a year.
Mr Darcy was a study in contrasts that punched holes in her sketch of his character.
Shortly after his arrival, a sennight ago, he had expressed a degree of compassion for the poor benighted souls struggling with the disease.
Then he offered that the militia should have done more against those same rioters.
While her initial reaction was outrage, Elizabeth recalled that she had heard her father and Sir William utter similar sentiments in the days since the sack of Netherfield. Such an opinion was no confirmation of Mr Darcy’s aloofness or pride. To believe that Mr Darcy’s expression of such feelings was confirmation of his haughtiness would have forced her to accuse two of Meryton’s leading gentlemen with the same deadly sin. On the contrary, that Mr Darcy shared the sensibilities of Papa and Sir William showed that the man had been shaped by similar forces, which made him typical of his class.
Mr Darcy also had deviated from the way Lizzy assumed wealthy gentlemen would act. Rather than demonstrating humanity, Elizabeth had estimated that someone with ten thousand a year would have subscribed to an alms collection to avoid descending from his lofty perch to consort with those enjoying his beneficence. The image of Mr Darcy rubbing shoulders with the masses seemed ridiculous and out of his grasp. Lizzy had believed that Darcy would have felt that his wealth would absolve him of any need to care. To her, he was stiff and proud, looking down on people as if they were no more important than ants scurrying through the dust around his immaculate Hessians.
Yet, since the shredding of the Bingleys’ felicity, the overbearing Derbyshire man had spent days consoling his friend. He also had been equally gentle with Miss Bingley while observing all that was proper to avoid raising any expectations on her part.
His intimacy with Bingley led Lizzy to doubt her original assessment of Mr Darcy’s character—neither a dispassionate appraisal nor, she grudgingly admitted, one grounded in observed behavior.
Was this the man who maliciously had denied Mr Wickham a valuable living bequeathed to him and, thus, had cast his childhood friend into penury? Would the same man have been willing to sit unshaved and indifferently clothed at a school friend’s bedside? The logical inconsistency of Mr Darcy refusing comfort to his oldest friend, George Wickham, while granting succour to someone of more recent acquaintance struck Elizabeth as nothing less than the fatal flaw in her analysis. Unless Mr Darcy was a rattle and fickle beyond all words—neither description suitable for the gentleman—he could not have changed so in the five years since his father’s death. One part of the formulation had to be untrue. Elizabeth had seen Mr Darcy tend to Mr Bingley with her own eyes. She had only heard Mr Wickham’s tale of woe at the hands of the gentleman. As Mr Bacon would have argued, a posteriori, the first-hand observed former disproved the second-hand shared latter.
Of the greatest import was Mr Darcy’s confession to Jane and Bingley of his intervention in their affairs. Her beloved sister had confirmed that Mr Darcy explained all that had occurred after the Netherfield ball. He had stressed that his interference was rooted in a misguided attempt to protect Bingley from a fortune hunter inspired by her mother’s effusions about jewels, pin money, and carriages.
In a late-night tête-à-tête after Georgiana had abandoned Lizzy’s chamber for Mary’s—the two young women having begun a friendship that extended beyond music—Jane revealed that Mr Darcy had perceived no particular evidence of her regard for Mr Bingley during their autumn mating dance. Lizzy gently reminded Jane of Charlotte’s injunction about putting herself forward to give proof of her affection lest a gentleman confuse her reserve for indifference.
A flustered Miss Bennet had explained her misgivings about that advice. “I had heard our mother expound about showing men that we possessed what they wanted most.” At this Jane cupped her night rail-covered bosom in both hands and lifted it high in a mockery of what she imagined her mother meant. “I could never be so forward as to act the harlot. I have since realized that, while I listened to Charlotte, I heard our mother. Now I know what our friend meant. I promise you, Lizzy, Charles knows my heart.”
“Charles?” Lizzy teased.
Jane’s blushes glowed in the flickering candlelight.
“He is in mourning, you know,” Elizabeth said softly.
A resolute Jane replied, “He has said that he cares neither for form nor propriety that would continue to divide us. Given the number of persons affected—gentle and rude alike—there would be no weddings until the year thirteen if all adhered to these restrictions! True, he is devastated by Mrs Hurst’s death, but he feels that he has been bereaved for six months lamenting our lost time. And, Charles refuses to place his life in abeyance into the next year.”
A wide-eyed Elizabeth repeated her earlier question and added another. “Charles? Weddings? Jane Hadley Bennet, what are you hiding from me?”
Jane’s head dipped, her burnished blonde plait falling across her shoulder. She whispered as if the words would flee like a sparrow gingerly approaching a picnic blanket in search of crumbs. “We do have an understanding. He has spoken with Papa. Our father has given Charles and me his blessing to wed when we see fit once we are freed from quarantine. But he begged us not to mention anything to Mama while we are all still confined. You grasp the need, I am sure.”
Embraces and tears were shared between the sisters over the stalk of happiness that had sprouted from the burned-over landscape.
The recollection of her father’s admonition—given in fear of spending upcoming days in the company of an overheated Mrs Bennet—now brought to mind Wednesday’s parlor tableau. Elizabeth had found Mr Darcy congenially conversing with Mrs Bennet. Her subsequent knowledge of his confession to Jane and Charles now gave Lizzy the context of his undertaking with her mother. The alteration in Mama’s opinion of the gentleman showed as much about her good sense in accepting his explanation as about the man’s humility. He clearly could not live with the inner knowledge of his poor behavior. He needed to amend what he could, admit what he could not, and beg pardon for both.
Elizabeth leaned her forehead against the chilled windowpane and closed her eyes against the brightening countryside. A bilious wave rose into her gorge. She now understood how mistakenly she had considered the accusations she had laid against Mr Darcy’s reputation and character. She had fallen prey to the wolves of injured pride.
She had misjudged Mr Darcy because of injured feelings that had rendered her blind to his inner goodness.
And, now, he had been gone from Longbourn for the better part of a day, nearby but as unreachable as the Moon.
He holds an advanced degree in History with specialities in Modern European History and the History of American Foreign Relations. As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.
Don turned his passion for reading The Canon into writing #Austeesque Fiction. He has published thirteen works in the genre since late 2015. As a member of The Austen Authors Collective, Don joins (and he is modestly bowing his head to admit that he is the knave in this deck of Queens and Kings) other Janeites who seek to extend the Mistress’ stories beyond the endings she so carefully crafted.
And FINALLY, the Meryton Press is giving away 1 ebook of “The Longbourn Quarantine” to a lucky winner of the giveaway! So leave a comment to be part of the giveaway, and best of luck!